About Sheppard Method Pilates

sheppard method pilates bench with risa

What is The Sheppard Method?

  • Risa Sheppard has been teaching “the Pilates Method” since 1975. She fell in love with the work and never looked back.
  • The Sheppard Method is essentially customizing each person with the Pilates Method and a lot of TLC in a way that works for each individual regardless of ability.
  • The Sheppard Method incorporates understanding of the thoughts of the mind and how they affect our lives and bodies.
  • The Sheppard Method is classical Pilates with a personal touch which includes: Teaching and Healing, Expression of the spirit, Practice allowing your body to move in a fluid, efficient, powerful, coordinated, and relaxed manner.
  • The results allow you to move beyond your limitations, and you will feel comfortable in your own skin.
  • The Sheppard Method is movement with grace, agility with beauty, and power with gentleness that brings out your true inner spirit.
  • The Method enables a balanced body and mind to work together in a harmonious movement that is centered, elongated and strong. No matter your occupation or daily routines, whether you work out or not.

Please browse the Sheppard Method Pilates website for more information about our private Pilates and group classes, the many benefits of pilates, or learn about our Pilates certification program to become a Pilates instructor. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us today! We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about our Pilates studio, the Sheppard Method or our class schedule.

sheppard method pilates bio

Pilates Instructor & Creator of Sheppard Method Pilates

Risa Sheppard is one of the most sought after Pilates Instructors in the world by celebrities to individuals with life changing injuries. Risa is the creator of the renowned Sheppard Method Pilates, which teaches the mind, body and spirit connection and personal empowerment. She’s dedicated her life’s work to helping others achieve personal perfection and maintain optimal health, no matter what age. Risa received a BA degree from UCLA while working at the Neuropsychiatric Institute teaching creative movement to autistic children. She went on to receive her formal Pilates training education working directly with Ron Fletcher, legendary guru of Pilates, and founder of the Fletcher Pilates® which incorporates Graham-based elements of movement and dance into the equipment-centric structure of Joseph Pilates’ original creation. She is the founder of the Sheppard Method Pilates Studio based in Los Angeles, CA. and the Sheppard Method Teacher Training Program a PMA certified program with successful graduates teaching throughout the world.

Her classes can currently be seen on Pilates Anytime, http://www.pilatesanytime.com/instructor-bio/54/Risa-Sheppard-Pilates-Teacher. Risa is the inventor of the Wheel of Fitness, now known as the Ring Flex, which is sold worldwide. Pilates Style Magazine named Risa Sheppard’s DVD, “A Gentle formula for a Strong Body” the best DVD for beginners. In addition to being a talented Pilates instructor, she is a also a prolific writer on fitness having authored Risa Sheppard’s Fitness Formula for a Firm and Flat Stomach and is on the advisory board of Pilates Style Magazine. Her work has appeared in Muscle and Fitness, City Sports, Total Health and Natural Body and Fitness. She has also been featured in Vogue, Elle, Ladies Home Journal, Los Angeles Magazine, City Sports, The Hollywood Reporter, and American Fitness. Numerous television appearances include being the fitness expert on TNN American Magazine, Shoppers Television Network, KTLA Morning show, and co-host for The Jack La Lane Show. Risa has been profiled on Entertainment Tonight, KABC, KCBS, and KTTV News. Risa has been a pilates instructor for many clients, which include Ashley Green, Katherine Ross, James Earl Jones, Jack LaLanne, Reba McEntire as well as studio executives, celebrities, professional dancers and athletes. Her work continues to inspire and touch many thousands of lives by bringing out their very highest potential.

Pilates History

The Beginning of Pilates

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” Here is the fascinating story how Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates (1880-1967). Joe watched wistfully as children played outside, running and laughing in Germany. A frail child plagued by rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever, Joe yearned for a healthy, strong, attractive body. Not yet a teen, he began researching many types of exercise to aid in his strength-training program. He studied yoga, Zen meditation and several ancient Greek and Roman exercise regimens. Pilates tried each exercise he read about. He kept records of each movement to chart his progress. By the time he was 14, he had strengthened himself enough to become an accomplished diver, gymnast and skier. In 1912, he left Germany to train as a boxer in England.

Breakthrough Exercise Techniques

“Ideally, our muscles should obey our will” As a German national in England at the outbreak of World War I, Joe was incarcerated. He taught fellow inmates his 500 exercises focused on developing “core” muscles of the abdomen and increasing flexibility in the arms, legs, and supporting muscle groups. His efforts helped maintain their health through the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918. Authorities noticed and sent Pilates to the Isle of Man to care for patients immobilized by war injuries. Many couldn’t stand or even sit up to do the exercises. Pilates removed bedsprings from the beds and attached them to the walls at or above bed level. Using straps on their arms or legs, patients could lie in bed and push or pull the springs, exercising against the coils resistance. Doctors noticed these exercises improved patient recovery considerably. Pilates began fitting all the hospital beds to help rehabilitate as many wounded soldiers as he could. He called his new regimen “Contrology”.

Pilates Gains Popularity

“A sound mind in a sound body” After the war, Joe went back to Germany where his exercises gained favor with the dance community. In 1926, Joe immigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. He began working with the dancers of the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine, and dance legends Hanya Holm and Martha Graham. Athletes and performers soon followed.

Pilates Evolves in the U.S.

“Complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”
While Joe was still alive, only two of his students opened their own studios. When Joe passed away in 1967, Clara continued to operate the “Pilates” Studio in New York. Several students went on to open studios. Ron Fletcher a Martha Graham dancer, who studied with Joe from the 1940s on, opened a studio in Los Angeles in 1970 and attracted many of the biggest Hollywood stars. Clara gave her blessing for Fletcher to carry on the “Pilates” work and name. Fletcher brought many innovations and advancements to the “Pilates” method. Following in Fletcher’s footsteps is Pilates instructor, Risa Sheppard. Risa studied and worked closely with Ron and later created the Sheppard Method, adding more than 30 years of mind-body research from helping athletes, seniors, expectant mothers, and those with serious injuries. The media has extensively covered the benefits of Pilates and the public has taken notice. Today, the Sheppard Method is taught throughout the world and over 10 million Americans practice it, and the numbers continue to grow. *Partial excerpts by Kathryn Linderman Investor’s Business Daily


Benefits of Pilates Classes and Private Pilates

A workout that soothes your mind, body and spirit

Whether it’s within the confines a Pilates studio or a private Pilates practice at home, Pilates connects your breath to your movement and you become more in tune with the proper alignment of your spine, posture and muscle flexibly. Because there’s no stress to your body, it’s the ideal form of exercise. Results include increased strength, circulation, bone density and stamina. You learn proper breathing techniques and move and flow in a more natural state.

Longer, leaner muscles with the flexibility of a dancer

Pilates is much safer and results in fewer injuries than traditional exercise and weight programs. You gain muscle elasticity, joint mobility, a balanced body and increased flexibility and strength. Move with more elegance and efficiency.

A solid core, stronger back and flat abdominals

Developing your core is essential to fitness. Pilates builds your abdominal muscles and the muscles that are closest to your spine. Core strength builds integration of the pelvis, trunk and shoulder girdle.

A perfectly conditioned body prevents injuries

Pilates is a complete workout for your body, from your head to your toes. Your muscles become more evenly balanced. Your improved conditioning results in increased energy, a greater sense of enjoyment and less chance of injury.

Group and private Pilates is gentle and good for all ages

Pilates is safe, low impact and done in seated or reclining positions – ideal for individual private Pilates at any time or location! We work with clients of all ages and walks of life. From professional athletes, those with injuries, to individuals who are 90 years young! We design custom programs for all ages and conditions including:

  • Pilates for Seniors

Pilates are gentle movements that our clients in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s love doing because they keep you young. Workouts leave you feeling calm, rejuvenated and with a balanced body. Benefits include being more agile with improved motivation and mental outlook. Most importantly, you enjoy life more because you are moving in a body that’s strong, secure, and flexible.

  • Pilates for Pregnancy

Stay in shape and more connected to your body throughout your 9-month pregnancy cycle. Sheppard Method Pilates is safe and healthy with a focus on building your core strength, control, balance, posture and breathing to help with your changes from delivery to recovery. Our gentle program has helped our clients relax, stay fit and enjoy their pregnancy even more!

  • Pilates for Teens

Builds self-esteem, better posture, and stronger muscles while learning about healthy living.

  • Pilates for Men

Men are discovering the benefits of staying flexible and having better control of their movements by developing a strong center and mind/body awareness.

  • Pilates for Brain Trauma

Whether recovering from a stroke, car accident or PTSS, Pilates is one of the best forms of rehabilitation. Private Pilates sessions help improve balance, muscular strength, and most importantly, helps the brain synopsis communicate more effectively with muscles. The Sheppard Method calms and refocuses attention. It restores, to the best of its ability, the full function of the body and mind.